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The Leader of the Band Plays On

dellimoreBy day, Bruce Dellimore was many things to many people: airline coordinator, AIDS researcher, computer engineer. By night he was — and still is — something else altogether: the leader of the band. It didn’t so much matter to Dellimore how much the gig payed, how many people were there to hear him play, or the 14-hour workdays. For Bruce Dellimore, time stood still the moment he took his place onstage.

“Of course, that was then, and this is now,” says Dellimore from his home at Carillon Assisted Living of Hillsborough. “I don’t perform every night, but when I do, I can still go for hours and it seems like minutes.”

These days, Dellimore is a solo act, playing the occasional evening concert for his Carillon neighbors and team members on the community piano. He’d much rather be playing a Hammond organ, the instrument favored by Jazz musicians like himself, and one he could write a book about.

“Did you know that the Hammond organ was the first synthesizer?” he asks. “Not many people do. It’s a relatively new instrument, as musical instruments go, and it’s made a huge impact on music – and Jazz music in particular.”

Ask him to list the instruments he can play and he says: “It might be better to ask me which ones I don’t play. It’s a short list.”

Does he still work? Yes, in fact, he’s just come from a music lesson with a young student. A violin lesson, as it turns out. Dellimore says teaching music is probably the most important thing he’s done as a musician, and possibly as a person.

“It’s so easy to do it badly, you see. People make it hard, but I tell my students: If you can count up by four and you know the alphabet A through G, then I can make you a proper musician. It’s just basic math.”

Dellimore’s keep-it-simple rule has served him well in his nine-to-five life, as well. This native of the British Virgin Islands and father of six has held a lot of interesting jobs all over the world – a ham radio operator in the Antilles, a sports photographer in Trinidad, an AIDS researcher in New York City – the list goes on and on. Dellimore says he was able to do such diverse things throughout his career not because he knew a lot, but because he was curious about a lot of things.

“I took the time to ask questions, to educate myself, and I recognized the opportunities that came to me,” he says.

His professional life was never something he did to pass the time between musical gigs. On the contrary, his work life allowed him to explore and create and perform for the world in a very different way than his music allowed.

“I didn’t look to music to be all things to me, and I never wanted music to be an obligation in terms of paying the bills. Music has been a great passion all my life, but the truth is, there is more to Bruce Dellimore than just music.”

Posted in Sage Stories on October 6, 2015

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